For decades, the voice communication infrastructure in the United States has consisted of a vast nationwide network of copper wires. Familiar applications such as analog landline telephone service (also known as “Plain Old Telephone Service” or POTS) were built on this infrastructure. Many of those services are still operational today.
In 2019, the Federal Communications Commission deregulated the copper lines, allowing suppliers to phase out support and replace the infrastructure with modern technologies such as fiber and wireless to support new digital applications. FCC Order 19-72A1 orders the shift to the newer alternatives by August 2, 2022.
The FCC mandate to eliminate POTS lines was ordered in response to the appeals of network service providers in their push to modernize communications services. In the modern era, the networks that handle voice and data communications have increasingly turned to fiber optic and wireless digital technologies and phased out analog approaches. Digital network architectures provide powerful advantages over analog, such as wireless designs, as well as vastly superior transmission speeds, operations, and maintenance capabilities. Digital architectures are the necessary infrastructure for the Internet, and in turn, for the growing ecosystem of end-user applications that support our daily lives.
Implications for ConsumersPOTS copper line infrastructure has grown in the United States for over 100 years
and is readily available nationwide as a result.
A variety of commonplace consumer services have been built on the POTS infrastructure. For all residences and businesses that use services that depend on copper lines, the FCC order means that those services will no longer be available after August 2.
Most notable is conventional landline telephone service, but there are others that are not as obvious, including elevator phones, alarm systems, gates and doors, and ATMs, just to name a few.
For many businesses, another POTS-based service has become a core element of office operations, and that is Fax. To this day millions of businesses are equipped with multiple phone numbers, phone jacks, and phone bills, in support of landline phones and Fax machines.
Cloud Fax is the latest iteration of remote document duplication functionality. Based on several Internet technologies (including IP, TLS, and SMTP) Cloud Fax vastly improves the handling of documents in the normal flow of office operations. Using Cloud Fax, document, and information-intensive businesses such as legal, insurance, real estate, and healthcare are able to smoothly transition from Fax machines installed utilizing POTS lines - while enjoying better fax document quality, integrated document workflows, better document organization, and 24/7 Fax processing with store and forward functionality that guarantees no Fax will ever be lost.
While the August deadline for ending POTS line services may come as a surprise, it actually represents the end of a transition that began in 2019. Now business and residential consumers alike must make plans for replacing their POTS-based voice and data services with alternative digital services. This planning effort requires thoughtful project planning. The migration plan will typically include the following considerations.
Vendor Selection. The first thing to do is identify network service providers that offer alternatives to POTS lines. For residences, typical alternatives are cable TV, fiber optic cable, and 4G wireless. There are typically additional options for businesses.
Consumer Services Selection. It is necessary to take an inventory of the POTS-based services you use and then explore alternative solutions offered by the network service providers. Residential customers are very familiar with the “service bundles” offered by cable companies, for example. The needs of business customers are generally greater in scale and more rigorous.
Migration Project Planning. The actual process of dismantling your existing POTS-based services, getting the new infrastructure installed and running, and training everyone involved on how to use the new regime can be simple or complex as a function of your usage patterns. In many business cases, this kind of work will be handled by dedicated IT teams.
Cloud Fax: The Future of Fax Is Here
Cloud Fax services are the modern alternative to Fax machines and POTS lines, designed to meet the most demanding needs of businesses for Fax processing. These services offer the ability to send and receive Faxes over the Internet, using computers and mobile phones instead of Fax machines. They operate independently of the soon-to-be-obsolete POTS copper wire infrastructure.
WestFax Cloud Fax services were established in 1999, with the vision of providing industrial strength, higher quality, and more secure Fax capability than the existing hard-wired Fax machines. Today WestFax offers a suite of value-added Fax services, including sophisticated functions of email-to-Fax transfer, document pre and post-processing, character and content recognition, and integration with a variety of office printer types. WestFax services are specifically designed to meet the security standards of HIPAA, making WestFax a natural choice for Fax processing in healthcare environments. WestFax offers comprehensive service across the United States.
WestFax service can scale to meet the needs of the small office user to the largest medical corporation. To meet your specific faxing needs, the company also provides customized application development through its Professional Services division.
The new regulations go into effect on August 2. Call WestFax today to begin planning your fax service migration.